Every summer I think to myself, “It’s summer! That’s so great! We can go to Campustown all the time!” and then by August I’m thinking “What happened to the summer? The students are coming back sooner than later! We need to go all the time — now!”
Whether you have the family, or some time to yourself, or it’s date night, we present some fun ideas on where to eat in Campustown (and we use that term broadly here). Some of these are places to get a full meal, while others are great for a treat or a snack.
- Sakanaya, Green Street, Champaign. We mentioned Sakanaya in our previous list of eight great date night restaurants. If you like sushi, run — don’t walk — to Sakanaya. Delicious, fresh, innovative. Just be warned, it’s not very large and hard to bring a big group there. See our Mom Review of Sakanaya here.
- Caffe Bene, Urbana (Gregory Place). Caffe Bene is a Korean chain, and the Urbana location was its first in Illinois. (Now there is also one in Champaign on Green Street.) This place is your typical college cafe with folks studying and pecking at laptops. But it’s also a child-friendly place with a Korean-influenced menu, although it skews heavily toward dessert — which range from gelato to frappes to waffles to parfaits. The portions are HUGE, so bring a crowd. The menu changes seasonally.
- Maize (First and Green, Champaign): I’m not sure that Maize really counts as Campustown. It’s far enough away to be almost considered “Midtown.” But its Green Street location makes us think it is on campus. Regardless, it’s our favorite Mexican food in town, and should be added to your to-do list.
- Bread Company, Urbana (Goodwin Ave., near Krannert Center). A community staple for many years, it’s always a good decision to go to Bread Company for lunch or dinner. Lunch has a diverse menu of both hot and cold sandwiches all put on homemade bread. Soups and salads are also popular. In the evening, swiss fondue is the main attraction.
- Cocomero, Wright Street, Champaign: We love this joint, which brought self-serve fro-yo to Champaign-Urbana. It’s never a disappointment.
- Zorba’s, Green Street, Champaign: I’d probably get run out of town if I didn’t mention Campustown favorite Zorba’s. The place to get gyros in Champaign-Urbana. And the history of it is fun.
- Kofusion, Urbana (Gregory Place). If you like stir fry — make your own — or $1 sushi, this is the place for you. This is a “fast casual” version of the Kofusion in downtown Champaign. Kid-friendly, but no kids menu.
- Potbelly, Green Street, Champaign. You’re probably thinking — POTBELLY? REALLY??? Yes, it’s a chain. Yes, it’s ubiquitous in bigger cities. But around here, Potbelly’s on Green Street is the only location in town. Three reasons we go: the kids like it, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s not fast food.
BONUS: The Cookie Jar. We featured this place, but being a retail operation, they aren’t open after 6 p.m. So don’t expect dessert there after dinner.
After you’re done eating, we have a few ideas for more fun (depending on time of day and with/without family, of course):
- Take a family walk around the quad, visit the Alma Mater, check out our friends at the Illini Union. This is classic and never gets old. Every time I walk around the Quad (which is so awesome it has its own article) I see something I didn’t see before.
- Go bowling! Yes, you can take the family bowling at the Illini Union Rec Room. You can also play arcade games or video games there, or billiards. Check out their specials when planning your visit. Sign up for the Kids Club to get a coupon as well.
- Go shopping. If you’re with friends or have a few minutes to yourself, check out some Campustown boutiques. We’re big fans of women’s clothing shops Fira (at Gregory Place in Urbana) and Apricot Lane (at Wright and Green in Champaign). Great accessories too.
Where do you like to eat in Campustown?